Totalitarianism: How Total Control can be Obtained by Legitimate Means?
Totalitarianism during the 20th century has been said to be a new form of government never seen before in world history. Adolf Hitler essentially obtained power by legitimate means of election during the rise of the Nationalist Socialist Party or Nazi Party. Following the World War 1 and the Great Depression, which essentially put most of the world especially Germany into a spiral downwards economically, politically, and socially. During the rise of Adolf Hitler, he promised the German masses that he would bring back the German Pride and nationalism. After his stay in prison, he realized that he must obtain power by democratic means, but he subsequently took all the power once he was elected in office on January 30th, 1933 where he won the popular vote. Once Chancellor, he used the burning of the Parliament Hall or the “Reichstag” to effectively get rid of all political opposition, but it is said that Hitler himself had the government building burned down to help him obtain a tighter grip on power. The Reichstag passed the enabling act effectively giving Hitler full power for four years, but within two months of having full power he turned the German government into one that reflected a total dictatorship. All the while, Hitler reached out to the working class by mimicking F.D.R.’s “Fireside Speeches” and his public works acts which helped build infrastructure. He told the German people exactly what they wanted to hear. He used nationalism to justify socialism because he said the German people deserved to be looked after, not because of their equality, but because of their Germanness. He professed to the German people that they were the superior race from the idea of social Darwinism. At the same time that he began the rise of nationalism among the masses, he implemented a series of laws and events that essentially wiped the “scapegoat” Jewish population of all rights and citizenship. The Nuremberg Laws essentially wiped Jews of all abilities to own businesses, the Nazi’s took over a Jewish ran film industry, and effectively told the German people not to interact with them. Jew’s were now seen as Germany’s misfortune, and people truly believed in Hitler’s ideology of anti-semitism for it had mass appeal even before the rise of the Nazi's. Hitler even created his own military police called the S.S. ,which was a secret force that would effectively be Hitler’s pawns of terror that un-leased upon the Jewish population and political opposition which one can see through the “Night of Broken Glass,” which was a destruction of Jewish owned shops, and another occasion the S.S. led a reign of terror on the political opposition to instill fear and obedience among the people. German propaganda in the form of Nazi flags all over Germany, film ‘s such as the Triumph of the Will, the Olympic Games which Germany won, and even Hitler making the cover of time magazine in 1934 showed how glorious of a country that Germany had become all the while he used his total power to inflict terror upon the people. Hitler’s voice was all over the radio preaching to the German people about their superiority and the promise to bring back the Fatherland to its glory days. Children were known to have sung the Nazi Anthem, read poems in school about how Jews were sinners, and would cut the throat of any German Christian. Hitler told the people of Germany that it was their destiny to obtain living space for them to live a comfortable life after the war was over. This allowed him to justify invasions of other European countries like Poland, where most of the Nazi concentration camps were established. The concentration camps were downplayed though, for Hitler and the Party had a true monopoly over German media. While German media used German pride in nationalism to build German moral and support, they fueled their political adventure by confiscating Jewish owned possessions when they tried leaving the country in addition to the unlucky one’s who were sent to German labor and death camps. I find it rather interesting the serious of events that allowed such a thing to happen in a country. How could one man win a country over by legitimate means by bringing back up a broken down and morally beaten nation from the shadows of the abyss to becoming a nation of pride and superiority, and effectively scapegoating everything on what Hitler called the Jewish race. Obtaining power by democratic means is what Hitler knew he would have to do to gather the German masses to the Nazi Party, and he did so. His reign of terror began soon after he gained full power. He then went on to effectively strip all political opposition which put in the minds of the people, “you are either with us or against us.” Fear brought subordination to the Fuhrer, for he was the man who was going to save German, so one should not go against him. He essentially brought out an elitist German culture, for he said they were the superior race which was portrayed through all media outlets, while all the while stripping every one of their first amendment rights, and effectively removed citizenship from the Jewish people, and eventually led to the total destruction of the European Jewish population.
Hitler used the idea “racial purity” and the idea of German living space to justify his destructive acts on the Jewish people. He wanted an Aryan population of” racially pure, genetically healthy, and socially productive and loyal to the state. This goal meant, above all, stigmatizing, discriminating against, and ultimately killing those whom the Nazis identified as being biologically and racially flawed. In such a context, especially Jews, but also Roma (Gypsies), people with mental and physical disabilities, and African Germans, faced direct and immediate danger at the hands of the Nazis.”(The Quest for Racial Purity, pg. 2) The Jews were seen as un-human in the eyes of Nazi Party, and essentially the German people for the Party got rid of all liberal thoughts, which made Hitler’s word the only truth. This allowed for eugenics to occur on those who saw as unfit, and tarnished the German population by having too many children. This subsequently led to the idea of the extermination or evacuation of the Jewish people which shall always be referred to as the “Final Solution.” The HBO documentary, “Conspiracy,” a reenactment of meeting over the “Final Solution”, Heydrich, the head of the S.S. confirms that the final solution is the extermination of the Jewish race. “In place of the deportation policy, he suggests a vague and subjective policy of “evacuation” calling for the removal of special exemptions even for those who have received Germany’s highest honor the Iron Cross and adding new rules that include those that “look or behave Jewish”. During this discussion of evacuation, Heydrich allows some discussion over whether sterilization could be substituted for evacuation. When the sterilization discussion digresses into almost a shouting match, Heydrich promptly ends it by saying, “Death is the only reliable means of sterilization, Dead people don't have sex.” This shows that Heydrich shows no grief over the killing of 60,000 Jews a day at Autswitz Camp in Poland during the reign of the Nazi Party. They even devised an efficient way to keep the horrors of death away from the S.S. killing machines. They were to build and operate gas chambers that would be of a silent death to the Jews. The members of the conference saw amusement when the official noted that the bodies came out pink. This showed how the German people became so detached from the killing of the Jewish race for they were seen as inferior people who contaminated the population of Germany. In the end, the plan led to the destruction and horror of the entire European continent because of Hitler’s ideology of racial cleansing which led to the demise of over 6 million Jews and countless lives of other groups thought to be inferior.
1. “The Quest for Racial Purity.” Nazi Ideology and the Holocaust. http://www.ushmm.org/education/foreducators/resource/pdf/naziIdeologybook_part2.pdf
2. “Hitler and Socialism.” J.J. Ray. June 2001.
3. “Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century.” Bruce Pauley. European History Series. January 2009.